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Student Complaints

The Procedure to Support and Assess Capability to Study relates to a student's capacity to fully engage with University life, both academically and otherwise, without unreasonable detriment to their wellbeing and whilst maintaining appropriate standards of behaviour. Where there are concerns regarding a student's capability to study, the University acts within a particular procedure, detailed at:

The procedure is suitable for all registered students (those currently pursuing a course of study leading to the award of a degree, certificate or diploma of the University).  If you are a matriculated student then your College may use its own procedure, which might also be called a 'Fitness to Study' procedure. However, the University's Procedure can be used where the College Procedure is not appropriate, or a student does not have a College.

Students are advised to discuss any issues they are facing with their College Tutor (or equivalent) or receive free independent advice regarding any University procedure from the Student Advice Service at

Q. Who can initiate the procedure?

(a) the student’s Head of Department;

(b) the student’s Senior Tutor;

(c) the University Advocate or Student Discipline Officer; or

(d) the General Board Or bodies acting under powers delegated by the General Board, including the Examination and Assessment Committee and the Postgraduate Committee

Q. How/why might the procedure be used?

A student’s capability to study may be brought into question as a result of a wide range of circumstances. These include, but are not restricted to, the following:

(a) Students who have individual learning plans in place but are still struggling to manage their studies or other elements of their course;

(b) Students who are not attending scheduled learning opportunities, not submitting work and/or repeatedly not responding to emails;

(c) Students with complex personal circumstances (for example, health, family or financial issues) that are affecting the student's capability to study;

(d) Students who regularly submit applications for examination allowances as a result of ongoing health concerns;

(e) Students whose health, wellbeing or behaviour is causing concern to others, although there may be no negative impact on their academic work and progression;

(f) Students whose behaviour is impacting upon the health and safety of others.

Q. What happens when the procedure is initiated?

The Head of OSCCA will determine whether the case should be considered under stage 1 or stage 2 of the procedure, or it could be referred to a different procedure:

Stage 1: Support to study - a student attends a meeting within the Department and to discuss the supportive actions that can be put in place

Stage 2: Assessing capability to study - a student assents a Study Capability Assessment Committee, a formal meeting that will assess whether the student is capable of continuing their studies at the present time

Q. When will I be informed of any concerns relating to me?

Any concerns should normally be discussed with you by your Tutor or Senior Tutor. Where this has not happened, you will be sent a letter about the Procedure and are encouraged to speak to your Tutor or Senior Tutor as soon as possible.

Q. Will I need to attend a meeting?

You will be invited to attend a meeting, either within the Department or a meeting of the Study Capability Assessment Committee. If you do not attend the Department or Committee will not be able to discuss with you any concerns and it is therefore more likely that you may be assessed as not currently capable of continuing with your studies.

Q. What will happen at the meeting?

Both the Department meeting and the Committee meeting will want to hear all the details of the relevant circumstances so, as well as yourself and the decision-makers, there may also be other specific people invited. You will be informed who these people are before the meeting takes place, as well as documentation to be considered. At the meeting, you will be given the opportunity to speak and to ask and answer questions. You will be able to bring someone with you to the meeting for support.

Q. What will be the outcome of the meeting?

The Stage 1 outcomes will assist the student in continuing with their studies, or alternatively the matter will be referrred to stage 2.  Some examples of outcomes are as follows:

(a) additional meetings with College or University staff to discuss behaviour expectations or academic work;

(b) additional study skills or language sessions;

(c) mentoring, which can either be specific mentoring to support a student in managing their studies with a disability or more general mentoring (mentoring should only be carried out by staff, not peers);

(d) interim milestones or deadlines for academic work to ensure that formal deadlines will be met;

(e) the student engaging with the DRC, or with counselling or other medical or health professionals, including agreeing to undertake further assessments;

(f) a review of reasonable adjustments in place;

(g) the student not contacting or communicating with named staff or students, or to only communicate or contact named staff or students as explicitly defined by the action;

(h) using named University facilities or buildings as explicitly defined, for example, not using particular spaces out of hours or without supervision.

The Stage 2 outcomes are as follows: 

(a) to agree that no further action be taken by the University;

(b) to agree a plan of action(s) with the student;

(c) to make the student’s access to University facilities and premises subject to specified conditions;

(d) to make such recommendations, including to the student’s College, and/or direct such actions, in respect of the student, as the Committee considers fit;

(e) in the case of a medical or veterinary student, to refer the case for consideration under the University’s Fitness to Practise procedures;

(f) to refer the case for consideration under the University’s disciplinary procedures;

(g) to suspend the studies of the student temporarily and to determine the minimum period after which the University will consider an application to resume study, and what conditions, if any, must be met before an application to resume study may be made;

(h) to withdraw the right of a student to continue to study on a given course, or on any course, offered by the University;

(i) to [remove the student’s University membership and] exclude the student permanently from the University.

Q. What if I am not happy with the decision?

You can make a request for review using the Procedure for the Review of Decisions of University Bodies, within 14 days of receiving the written decision following the meeting. If you make a request later than this you should explain why you were unable to make the request earlier; only in exceptional circumstances will late requests be accepted.                    

Requests for review of a decision of a Fitness to Study Panel may be made on the following grounds and should include documented evidence of:

  1. procedural irregularities that occurred during the decision-making process, which were material or potentially material to the decision reached;
  2. the decision is unreasonable in that no reasonable person could have reached the same decision on the available evidence;
  3. the availability of new evidence, which materially impacts on the outcome and which, for valid reasons, could not have been submitted at an earlier stage.

Q. What if I am not happy with the outcome of the review?

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) runs an independent scheme to review student complaints, including regarding assessing capability to study decisions. The University a member of this scheme. If you are unhappy with the outcome you may be able to ask the OIA to review the outcome. You can find more information about making a complaint to the OIA, what it can and can’t look at and what it can do to put things right here:

You normally need to have completed the Procedure and the Review before you complain to the OIA.  We will send you a letter called a “Completion of Procedures Letter” when you have reached the end of our processes and there are no further steps you can take internally. You can find more information about Completion of Procedures Letters and when you should expect to receive one here: